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2016 NFL Draft: Which Missouri Tigers are early favorites to be drafted next year

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The NFL Draft is over but NFL Draft season never truly ends.
Several Tigers on the 2015 team could work their way into the 2016 draft.

Harold Brantley (#90) is the early favorite to become the next Mizzou Tiger in the NFL
Harold Brantley (#90) is the early favorite to become the next Mizzou Tiger in the NFL
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The 2015 NFL Draft is barely over so that means it's time to starting looking at next year's draft. Who on Mizzou will be the next to join Brad Smith, Jeremy Maclin, SHELDON RICHARDSON, Kony Ealy, Justin Britt and Shane Ray Markus Golden, Mitch Morse and others in the pros?

Who on Mizzou's 2015 roster is eligible for the 2016 Draft (via Wikipedia):

"Players who have been out of high school for at least three years are eligible for the NFL draft. The rules do not state that a player must attend college, but virtually all of the players selected in the NFL draft have played college football. A year as a redshirt player in college counts toward eligibility even though the player was not allowed to participate in games during that year, therefore players who have completed their redshirt sophomore year can enter the NFL draft."

The keyword here is red-shirt sophomores or athletes who are three (3) years removed from high school.

Per MUTigers.com 61 players are red-shirt sophomores or older and 19 who are Seniors or RS Seniors meaning it's the NFL draft or graduation after this year. Realistically, only a few of them have potential based on what we've seen so far in their careers. I took the liberty to pair down the list to include the upperclassman and notable red-shirt sophomores:

No. Name Pos. Ht./Wt. Year
3 David Johnson Cornerback 5-11/195 RS SR
82 Clayton Echard Tight End 6-5/260 RS SR
99 Andrew Baggett Placekicker 6-1/215 RS SR
18 Wesley Leftwich Wide Receiver 6-1/205 RS SR
13 Corbin Berkstresser Quarterback 6-3/220 RS SR
21 Ian Simon Safety 6-0/195 RS SR
10 Kentrell Brothers Linebacker 6-1/235 RS SR
60 Connor McGovern Offensive Lineman 6-4/300 RS SR
5 Cortland Browning Safety 6-1/205 RS SR
62 Taylor Chappell Offensive Lineman 6-5/305 RS SR
54 Nick Monaghan Offensive Lineman 6-2/245 RS SR
73 Mitch Hall Offensive Lineman 6-5/310 RS SR
40 Clarence Green Linebacker 6-0/220 RS SR
63 Brad McNulty Offensive Lineman 6-4/305 RS SR
35 Tyler Hunt Tailback 6-0/210 SR
77 Evan Boehm Offensive Lineman 6-3/320 SR
32 Russell Hansbrough Tailback 5-9/195 SR
7 Kenya Dennis Defensive Back 6-0/200 SR
30 Michael Scherer Linebacker 6-3/235 RS JR
1 John Gibson Cornerback 6-0/190 RS JR
25 Donavin Newsom Linebacker 6-2/230 RS JR
26 Jake Brents Wide Receiver 6-3/205 RS JR
90 Harold Brantley Defensive Lineman 6-3/280 RS JR
7 Maty Mauk Quarterback 6-0/200 RS JR
95 Rickey Hatley Defensive Lineman 6-4/285 RS JR
80 Sean Culkin Tight End 6-6/245 RS JR
70 Malik Cuellar Offensive Lineman 6-5/300 JR
11 Aarion Penton Cornerback 5-10/190 JR
97 Josh Augusta Defensive Lineman 6-4/335 JR
22 Anthony Sherrils Defensive Back 6-0/190 RS SO
96 A.J. Logan Defensive Lineman 6-2/300 RS SO
91 Charles Harris Defensive End 6-3/280 RS SO
35 Marcus Loud Defensive Lineman 6-4/260 RS SO
38 Eric Beisel Linebacker 6-3/225 RS SO
6 J'Mon Moore Wide Receiver 6-3/190 RS SO
10 Jason Reese Tight End 6-5/250 RS SO
The list of Mizzou Tigers prospects lists begins with:

Harold Brantley

Defensive Tackle/End, RS Junior (6-3, 290, 40 yard dash: 4.80)

If you read RockMNation or follow me on twitter, you'll know I'm the President of the Harold Brantley fan club - I get hyped just thinking about watching him play next year. I started championing his play all the way back in 2013 when he earned 6 starts as a red-shirt freshman DT who had the athleticism to also run the dang ball on a fake punt vs Ole Miss.

He had a career high 7 tackles in Mizzou's dramatic Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma State before notching 54 tackles, 7 tackles for a loss and 5 sacks in 10 starts last year. He also has a blocked kick for each year he's played for Mizzou (nevermind the one vs Toledo was actually Josh Augusta).

A unique blend of size, speed and ferocity, Brantley is a disruptive force from the defensive tackle position akin to Sheldon Richardson before him. He earned high praise from Alabama fans during last year's SEC Championship game:

A behind the scenes leader for last year's team, Brantley will be thrust into a greater role both on the field and in the locker room with the departure of Markus Golden and Shane Ray. A healthy Harold Brantley is the surest bet to be a top pick in next year's draft and continue Mizzou's "DLINEZOU" tradition.

Projection: 1st or 2nd round pick

Kenya Dennis

Cornerback, Senior (6'0", 200, 40 yard dash: 4.38)

When it comes to Mizzou cornerbacks there are basically two names: Roger Wehrli and E.J. Gaines right? That could change this year with JUCO transfer Kenya Dennis, whose prototypical size and speed combination leap out to casual observers.

Last year Dennis was 6th on the team in tackles (49) had (4.5) tackles for a loss, was second on the team in pass break ups (9) behind Aarion Penton's (10), forced a fumble, an interception and half a sack. Mizzou will rely on him and Aarion Penton to lock down opposing defenses more than ever as they adjust to new schemes and find a pass rush so he'll see more opportunities to make plays than perhaps any time last year.

Projection: 1st or 2nd round pick

Evan Boehm

Center/Guard, Senior (6-3, 315)

I've probably give this section more consideration than any of the other players because of the uniquity of the position. Only 2 centers were drafted in the first three rounds of the 2015 Draft and only 6 overall, with Rimington Trophy winner Reese Dismukes from Auburn going undrafted. Going back to 2014, only 9 centers were drafted, with 3 going in the first three rounds.

Evan Boehm is a strong, quick-footed, career starter who is playing the center position because of his intelligence and leadership qualities not because it's an ideal fit for him. He makes more sense as an NFL guard than center due to a propensity for being knocked back by strong defenders, something only the superior linemen can overcome and one of the things scouts will look for during evaluations.

There's almost as much to say about his personal characteristics as there are his physical ones; he combines vocal leadership and charisma with a powerful frame and low center of gravity born from his wrestling background. It remains to be seen if his athleticism translates to the next level.

More known for defensive lineman, Mizzou has created a bit of buzz with consecutive 2nd round offensive lineman Justin Britt (Seattle Seahawks) and Mitch Morse (Kansas City Chiefs). Just like I don't believe in "recruiting momentum" I don't think this guarantees anything for Evan Boehm, but it certainly suggests NFL scouts are paying attention to both sides of the trenches when they watch Mizzou.

Projection: 2nd or 3rd round pick

Kentrell Brothers

Linebacker, RS Senior (6-1, 240, 40 yard dash: 4.84)

Brothers' size might suggest he'd be better suited in coverage than stuffing the run, but he was Mizzou's leader in tackles (122) ahead of middle linebacker Michael Scherer (114), had 5 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks, 4 passes broken up, 3 fumbles forced and had 6 games last year with double digit tackles. He's started every game the past two years and is primed to have another year of standout production.A weakside linebacker at the next level because of his speed and instincts, Brothers may need to impress scouts with something other than triple digit tackle numbers to wow scouts.

Projection: 4th round pick

Russell Hansbrough

Running back, Senior (5'9", 195, 40 yard dash: good enough to beat Texas A&M)

An under-sized back, Russell Hansbrough has remarkable lateral agility and vision but appears make up for a lack of break-away speed with an intense eagerness to hurt every defender aiming to tackle him - sometimes to his own detriment. Russell "Mansbro" Hansbrough serves as great college running back but lacks many of the characteristics that scouts and GMs desire, particularly in the depressed running back market of the modern NFL. When I project him to the next level I want to see the next Maurice Jones-Drew but realistically he's more in the mold of a Kendial Lawrence.

Projection: 4th round pick

Names to watch:

Connor McGovern

Offensive Lineman, RS Senior (6-4/300)

A natural guard, Mizzou has McGovern set to play left tackle for 2015, a position that doesn't accentuate his particular skill set. Along with Evan Boehm, McGovern should move to guard at the NFL level where his strength, tenacity at the point of attack and mobility on counter trap pulls will give him the best shot. If McGovern acquits himself at tackle and stays healthy, he could prove to be the fastest riser on the team and follow Mitch Morse and Justin Britt before him.

Michael Scherer

Linebacker, RS Junior (6-3/235)

A smart, instinctual player with a solid blend of size and athleticism, Scherer probably remains at Mizzou for his senior year unless he significantly improves in all facets of his game. It's not a knock against Scherer, but rather a statement about the sheer number of talented athletes playing the same position as him across the NCAA, perhaps behind only running back and wide receiver. It may sound cliche, but to really turn heads he'll need to show an outstanding ability to stuff the run and drop into coverage from the middle linebacker position.

John Gibson

Cornerback, RS Junior (6-0/190)

A corner with ideal size, Gibson will need to display improved tackling fundamentals in addition to one on one coverage skills while fighting for playing time against incumbent starters Aarion Penton and Kenya Dennis. He'll have opportunities to impress as the staff moved him into the slot or nickle corner for 2015. There's also the little matter of that 4th quarter defensive pass interference penalty against Indiana.

Donavin Newsom

Linebacker, RS Junior (6-2/230)

Strong blitzing linebacker with tremendous speed but limited production, Newsom may benefit most of all from Barry Odom's changes to Mizzou's defense. Well- suited to playing the "Jack", "Dawg" or "Tiger-back" linebacker position off the edge, Mizzou's leader in sacks next year may well be Newsom by design.

Charles Harris

Defensive End, RS SO (6-3/280)

With an ideal build, Charles Harris looks the part but lacks production at the college level. A spectacular year may garner him interest but scouts will be concerned about consistency and will want to see him produce over the course of two years before investing even a lower pick in him. Harris will also need to demonstrate he's capable of playing in space, something he struggled with on the edge last year, and that he isn't a product of the talent around him.